Junto Project 0319: Duly Noted

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

In his book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, designer Edward Tufte describes how “erasing principles” can have a beneficial effect on the way we interpret graphical data. “Half-faces carry the same information as full faces,” he writes. “Halves [are] easier to sort [and] can be used to report additional variables. Bilateral symmetry doubles the space consumed by a design without adding new information.”

In an information-rich world where everything we do or say is excessively catalogued, it is our ability to edit that optimizes human experience. High-density design is hard work; detailed complexity renders our tasks more difficult, sacrificing economy of scale for the sake of gratuitous proliferation. The simple act of making a decision becomes more arduous, counterbalanced by the fear of leaving out something important that we’ll need later.

For this short piece, Suss Müsik sought to bilaterally visualize an erasing principle using sound. A simple, nearly symmetrical melody is played on fake woodwinds and degraded over 16 measures. Each note in the sequence is eliminated step-by-step to create a series of comparisons. In some instances, a note returns briefly only to be abandoned in the next bar.

The piece was starting to feel a bit dry, so we added a pulsing synth bass and acoustic percussion as background. The result is something like Martin Rev sitting in with Babatunde Olatunji while Ransom Wilson rehearses Vermont Counterpoint.

The piece is titled Gasko, named after the researcher Miriam Gasko. She is known for co-authoring a scholarly paper on the effect of halfspace depth on short-term memory when using a computer interface. The image is an eraser.

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